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Parents See Toddler One Step Closer in Dream of Her Walking

The daughter of a Dunedin firefighter won a contest that will fund intensive therapy for a girl with cerebral palsy.

Lori and Jason “Jay” Griggs’ dream is for their daughter Kiley to walk.

Right now, she can’t even crawl or sit up on her own. She’s starting to understand that her cerebral palsy makes her different from friends who can walk or run.

Her parents received word on her 3rd birthday that their dream could become a reality. They won money needed to enroll her in intensive therapy for children with cerebral palsy or other neurological disorders.

The Griggs' dream for Kiley into the Upromise Dream Wall Sweepstakes, a contest in which users posted their dreams online and readers voted for their favorites. Upromise, a rewards program run by Sallie Mae, pledged the grand prize of $10,000 to the entrant with the most votes on Sept. 29. 

On the final night of the contest (Sept. 29), Jason “Jay” Griggs, a Dunedin firefighter, refreshed the Upromise Dream Wall page every 15 minutes on Kiley’s iPad.

On Oct. 3, the Griggs, who live in a subdivision just outside New Port Richey, received an e-mail saying they were selected as grand prize winners. The dream for Kiley was also revealed as the grand prize winner on the contest's results page.

“It is just amazing to me that thousands of people made our dream their own and voted for Kiley,” wrote Lori Griggs, who teaches at Rushe Middle School in Land O’ Lakes, in an email. “We feel so blessed. Now it's Kiley that has all the hard work to do.”

Kiley’s dream had a lead of more than 5,000 votes before the contest ended. They got bumped to the top of the running after BayNews 9 reported on their story in August. A posted on sites in multiple communities also added to the lead. Facebook users shared the story, and firefighters around the state spread the word, Jay said. He said a Pasco hotel manager, the Griggs' neighbor, posted the Griggs’ plea to vote for Kiley on the computers at his business.

“If it wasn’t for each individual, we wouldn’t be here,” Jay said.

The Griggs have signed Kiley up for intensive TheraSuit Method therapy at Lampert’s Therapy Group in Largo.

Jay said government deductions may be withdrawn from the prize money, but that there will be enough left to enroll her in at least two 15-day regimens. The married couple sent off the paperwork needed to accept the prize Tuesday.

TheraSuit teaches children with neurological disorders correct methods of movement. According to the Lampert's website, it retrains the nervous system, normalizes muscle tone, corrects gait, and improves balancem, strength and bone density.

The Griggs needed the sweepstakes money because their insurance does not cover the intensive therapy.

Will Kiley be able to walk after the therapy? The Griggs have said that they only know what they've been told.

Therapy will push her progress forward, they have said. There’s a plateau that patients with cerebral palsy face, and Kiley, hasn’t reached it. Now's the time to make progress.

They want Kiley to be independent. Even the ability to sit up and grab a walker would be progress.

As part of TheraSuit, patients perform physical therapy in an outfit equipped with elastic cords meant to provide support and mimic muscle movement. A component has the patient lying down in a “Universal Exercise Unit,” a cage-like structure, and exercising using a system of pulleys, straps and splints attached to the cage-like structure.

The exercise unit can also be used for a “Spider Cage” therapy, in which a web of bungee cords attached to the patient's suit and the cage suspends them upright.

Kiley starts therapy Oct 31.

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